I’m back with another interview of another author I truly admire, the one and only Sandhya Menon! When Dimple Met Rishi took the YA rom-com scene by storm when it came out and so has her next two books. Her first book was what got me into reading YA contemporary at all since I was more of a hardcore fantasy fan back in 2018. I love that desi characters are getting their own happy ending thanks to Sandhya and that desi models are so boldly featured on her beautiful covers. With that fangirl-y introduction aside, let’s jump into the Q&A part!
Here’s a little information about today’s wonderful guest –
Sandhya Menon is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels with lots of kissing, girl power, and swoony boys. A full-time dog servant and part-time writer, she makes her home in the foggy mountains of Colorado.
N: Hello, Sandhya! It’s a pleasure to have you here on Unputdownable Books. Thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to me!
S: Thank you, Nandini! I’m delighted to be here. 😊
N: You always look so put together! How do you manage to balance writing and the rest of your life?
S: Haha, emphasis on the word “look”! Like anyone else, I’m constantly finding ways to achieve work-life balance. I’m juggling so much at any one time that it’s really impossible not to let some of the balls fall sometimes. Still, I try to be judicious in what I say “yes” to. I’m learning that there will always be more stuff to take on, to add to your plate, and I’m getting better at being more discerning about what truly brings me joy and what feels draining and takes me away from the things I love doing.
N: I think we all can take a few tips from you! Was it hard to write characters like Dimple or Sweetie whose interests differ from yours quite a bit? How much of yourself do you put into your stories?
S: It wasn’t hard because their core personalities really speak to me! For instance, Dimple is that fiery feminist I always wished I was. Don’t get me wrong, I was a fierce feminist on the inside, I just didn’t have her relentless courage to stand up for what I believed at her age! As far as Sweetie goes, she’s definitely a Hufflepuff I modelled after my own Hufflepuff-y heart, so she’s probably the most similar to me out of the three heroines I’ve written so far! I’m certainly no athlete, but outside of that, Sweetie and I have so much in common.
N: Oh, that’s interesting! Speaking of Dimple and Sweetie, all your book covers have such gorgeous Indian models on them! 😍 What do you think of the representation of brown people in Western media both as a consumer and a creator?
S: Thank you! 😍😍😍 I’m absolutely loving that brown people are getting so much more brazen representation now, especially in kidlit (and by “brazen” I mean representation that isn’t limited to silhouettes, illustrated-style covers, or ambiguous ethnic representation). I feel like we still have far to go, but we’re making huge strides and I’m super-psyched to be here right now, writing my stories.
N: Let’s talk about the not-so-good parts. You continue to face backlash from certain readers because of the names you choose for your main characters, besides other things. How do you keep yourself motivated and positive in trying times such as these?
S: Part of being an author, in my opinion, is opening yourself up to these kinds of remarks. Whether we like it or not, having our books on bookshelves means we’re public figures to some small extent.
Sometimes people’s comments are well-meaning but misguided, and other times they’re hostile or ignorant. I try to keep perspective—if I think the person doesn’t understand the full implications of what they’re saying, I’ll gently help educate. But if I can’t do the emotional labor or I feel like they’re being intentionally malicious, I’ll ignore it and go about my own business. I’m honestly so happily busy with projects and writing that I don’t have the time to keep up with these little blips. My goal—to write the kind of stories that so many readers, no matter what their background, love and need—is so much bigger, so much more exhilarating, than a few internet trolls!
N: Wow, this is my favourite answer! 👏 I think everyone in the book community can learn something from that! So tell me, how did your obsession with the happily ever after start? Did you have any misconceptions about the romance genre that were cleared with time or experience?
S: My obsession probably started with the Bollywood and Meg Ryan movies I watched so many of in the 90s! I grew up on the idea of happily-ever-after, and I cut my teeth on first love. So, in a way, it was inevitable that I’d grow up to write what I do! When I was still a teen, I remember internalizing some of the messages that romance wasn’t “real” writing, and I’m so glad I’ve put that rubbish message behind me!
N: I’m guilty of that too and I’m unlearning that as well! Which books are your go-to recommendations for people looking to read more diversely?
S: For fantasy readers, I can’t recommend The Belles enough! And if you’re into adult romance, I can’t stop babbling about The Kiss Quotient.
N: I really liked The Belles and cannot wait to read The Kiss Quotient! Is there any possibility of more books in the series that started with Dimple and Rishi? Do you ever see yourself delving into genres other than contemporary romance?
S: There certainly is the possibility, and I can’t wait to make a formal announcement soon! Let’s just say keep your eyes peeled for my summer 2020 book. 🙂 I’d love to dive into other genres at some point, but I’m still mulling over all my options right now!
N: It was an absolute pleasure to get a chance to converse with you! I hope that There’s Something About Sweetie continues to receive praise and love from readers! I wish you the best of personal as well as professional success and hope that 2019 brings you much joy!
S: Thank you so much, Nandini! It was lovely chatting with you!
Check out the synopsis of Sandhya’s latest book –
Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After being dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.
The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?
Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.
Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.
Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other?
You can find Sandhya online here –
What did you think of this Q&A? Have you read Sandhya’s books? Are her books on your TBR? Do you have any diverse rom-com suggestions? Let’s discuss in the comments section below!